Movie Review - Ford v Ferrari
I mention this small factoid only because of one moment that I felt uncomfortable. For American audiences in particular, the idea is that it's an American car company versus an Italian car company to see who can win and who can be the fastest. Obviously, the film puts us on the side of the American company and putting its name first makes sense. It becomes a sense of nationalism and pride, which is probably a better tool to use in order to market a film in the USA. However, that tool isn't as handy to international audiences. Indeed, the film is less about American nationalism, as it is about what most sports films, even sports-car films, are about, and that's athletic determination. It's slightly different because it's not about building up the physical body, although a driver's health is important, but it's about building up a mechanical device and pushing that machine to its limits. This is the first film that made me understand and feel that literal and figurative drive.
In the 1960's though, the Ford Motor Company was having trouble. Sales were not what the head of the company wanted or liked. The Vice President of the company, Lee Iacocca, played by Jon Bernthal (The Wolf of Wall Street and The Walking Dead), has the idea that in order to put Ford back on the map, the company should enter races like the Le Mans and do everything they can to win them. Eventually, this leads him to Shelby who is the only American that Iacocca knows who won Le Mans.
When Iacocca offers Shelby money to help Henry Ford II, played by Tracey Letts (Lady Bird and The Post), win the Le Mans, Shelby knows that he's going to need Miles to be the one testing the engine, as well as being the one to be the driver for Le Mans. Shelby's problem is convincing the executives at the company to let him test the engine and run the race, as he sees fit. Iacocca is pretty much already on his side. The true push-back comes from Leo Beebe, played by Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama and Glory Road). Beebe is an executive who has more sway at Ford and more power than Iacocca. Beebe doesn't take a liking of Miles because Beebe doesn't see Miles as a "company man."
Director James Mangold (Logan and Walk the Line) also helps to keep those scenes punchy as well. Most will probably comment on his handling of the racing scenes. I can't speak to those scenes on a technical level, but it works well enough to immerse the viewer in that driver's seat with Miles. Depending on theatrical presentation, which I saw in IMAX with a great sound system, the audience will feel every turn of the wheel and every jolt of acceleration as the race cars take off. As vehicles at high speeds do occasionally, there are crashes and Mangold does a good job of making us feel every hit. There's seeming more weight and gravity to it than a lot of more recent entries in The Fast and the Furious franchise.
PG-13 for some language and peril.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 32 mins.